Jennifer McDerra appointed to lead ‘Spark to Flame’ project

The Charles Causley Trust have appointed a Development Officer to deliver the ‘Spark to Flame’ project which takes its name from Causley’s poem, Kelly Wood, and aims to preserve and promote the legacy of Charles Causley in Cornwall and beyond.

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Jennifer McDerra took up the post in September 2015 with a view to establishing a lasting legacy for Causley’s significant contribution to the arts.

David Fryer, (Chairman, The Charles Causley Trust): “The Causley Trust is delighted to achieve its ambition of appointing a Development Officer in conjunction with our partners – Cornwall Council, Launceston Town Council, Plymouth University and Literature Works. We have been considerably aided by a grant from Arts Council England. We are doubly delighted to have appointed Jennifer McDerra who, I know, will work hard to take forward Charles Causley’s heritage.”

This is an exciting time for the Trust, which has been successful in raising significant funding to expand the project’s scope and further develop their work to support developing writers and engage people with Causley’s work, and with literature more broadly.

With financial and in-kind support from the project partners, Jennifer will establish sustainable funding streams for the project, develop a residency and workshop programme at Cyprus Well, Causley’s former home in Launceston, and collaborate with academics, students and literary professionals to stimulate further consideration of Causley’s life and work at a local, national and international level.

Julian German, (Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture) “Cornwall Council is delighted to support the Spark to Flame literature project and we are very pleased that Jennifer McDerra is now in post. Jennifer brings a wealth of experience from the literature and publishing fields and we are sure that she will be a great asset in ensuring that the project goes from strength to strength.

Jennifer McDerra, “Charles Causley’s life and work are deserving of broader and deeper consideration. The refurbishment of Cyprus Well provides the opportunity to anchor Causley’s legacy in an environment where emerging writers can develop their own craft and respond to his work. Those who knew Charles are happy to see his former home used in a way that reflects his generosity of spirit, and it is in this spirit that I intend to develop the project.”

Rachel Christofides, (Plymouth University) “The department of English and Creative Writing at Plymouth University warmly congratulates Jennifer McDerra on her appointment as Development Officer for Spark to Flame. Jennifer’s ambition is to celebrate the poetry of Charles Causley not only regionally but nationally and internationally, and simultaneously to bring the best British poets and writers, established or newly emerging, to the region. This project will thereby ensure that literature continues to play a vital public role in the region’s cultural debates as well as in the lives of its individual readers.”

Tracey Guiry (CEO, Literature Works) “The chance to dedicate more time to their work is the one thing most writers and poets wish for and to be able to spend that time in a place with such a resonance with the very best creative writing is going to be of huge benefit to our Writer-in-Residence’s development and future career. With Jen as Development Officer the partnership will be able to grow the level and amount of work we are able to do with writers and audiences.”

Rita Skinner, Town Clerk (Launceston Town Council) “The council is very pleased to partner in this exciting venture. I am delighted Jennifer McDerra has been appointed to this role. I’m looking forward to working with her in my capacity as Launceston Town Clerk”.

The residency programme at Cyprus Well will follow the successful residencies of Kathryn Simmonds and Dr Alyson Hallett. Isabel Galleymore will be the next poet to take up the post in January 2016, and further details of workshops and events in association with her residency will be published on the website (

The Trust’s International Poetry Competition is now open for the third year running, the closing date for entries is November 3rd 2015. With a first prize of £2,000 it’s expected to attract entries from across the globe.

For more information about the new activities and developments of the Spark to Flame project under Jennifer’s direction, visit the website or follow @causleytrust on Twitter.